Vietnam is expected fully reopen tourism to foreign travelers under ‘new normal’ conditions starting from March 15. Photo: Lam Thien / Tuoi Tre
Ho Chi Minh City’s first responsible tourism community made its debut on Tuesday with hopes to promote responsible and sustainable tourism amongst domestic travel firms and their local and foreign customers.
WAFORT – “We act for responsible tourism” – is an organization comprised of over 40 travel firms, schools and volunteers aiming to develop responsible tourism on the basis of environmental protection, respecting local culture, and enhancing sustainable tourism competitiveness.
The organization was founded by Nguyen Ngoc Toan, a tourism entrepreneur who hopes the group will help raise awareness among tourism stakeholders, encourage and facilitate businesses to engage in responsible tourism and promote sustainable tourism development.
It plans to continue expanding its network and connect with other relevant organizations to create a common voice for fostering responsible tourism.
It will also act as a channel for promoting the image of Vietnam as an attractive, friendly and sustainable destination.
WAFORT’s short-term plans include issuing a set of responsible tourism criteria to facilitate sustainable tourism activities held by travel firms and their domestic and international clients, according to Toan.
“In developed countries, responsible tourism is well-recognized and appreciated by the public. In developing countries like Vietnam, tourism revenues are not enough to offset the impacts this industry has caused on destinations, so responsible tourism will help minimize such impacts,” he said.
Up to 97 percent of Vietnamese tourists believe that sustainable development is a vital element of the tourism industry, according to the Sustainable Tourism Report 2021 released by Booking.com, a travel and accommodation booking platform.
Experts engaged in the report identified the five factors that are most impactful on sustainable tourism, including waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature.
WAFORT came into being under the context that the Vietnamese government has agreed at a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to fully reopen tourism to foreign travelers under ‘new normal’ conditions starting from March 15.
The government has halted entry to foreign tourists from March 22, 2020 due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Southeast Asian country, which has so far caused 2,972,378 infections and killed 39,773 people, as reported by the Ministry of Health.